Protests turned violent in Suriname
Peaceful Assembly and Expression
On 17th February 2023, demonstrators took to the streets in the capital city Paramaribo to protest government austerity measures, including the elimination of subsidies, in the context of high inflation. The initially peaceful protest turned violent when some protesters forced their way into Suriname's parliament, while others started looting shops. The police fired tear gas and arrested over 100 people.
According to the Association of Surinamese Journalists (ASJ), media workers were injured and their equipment destroy or stolen during the protest. The organisation stated:
It should be made clear that journalists’ main job is to serve society, in this case by giving people first-hand information about what’s going on in society. This is an important part of democracy, and the Constitution guarantees it. -
In addition, Network data reported the restriction of social media and messaging platforms Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram and Messenger in Suriname during the day of the protest.
In general, freedom of expression in Suriname has been under pressure for some time, especially after President Chandrikapersad Santokhi and his government took office in 2020. For example, during a lecture on press freedom, journalist and editor-in-chief of Starnieuws, Nita Ramcharan, presented figures on the number of arrests of people who have criticised Santokhi and his team. According to Ramcharan's figures, from September 2020 to January 2023, thirteen people were arrested without correct charges being laid. In any case, the court has not determined in advance that there was insult, slander or defamation.
"People who are critical on social media feel the eyes of those in power in their backs," Ramcharan said. She therefore advocates the abolition of all muzzle laws from the Constitution of Suriname.
⚠️ Confirmed: Live metrics show Facebook, Instagram, WhatsApp and Messenger have been restricted in #Suriname on government-owned internet operator Telesur amid protests over the cost of living and the storming of parliament in Paramaribo— NetBlocks (@netblocks) February 18, 2023
📰 Report: https://t.co/XS6gwLwERT pic.twitter.com/hiJ1Au1svP